Friday, January 30, 2009

A Look Back

This past year has been one of intense growth for Morning Star. I think I've seen more new things happen in the past 12 months than I've seen in the past 5 years of working there. I've been meaning to write this post for the past month, and am finally doing it, but here's a look back of all that's happened since January 2008.

Saturday Service We started our Saturday service and it's still going strong. We've had some ups and downs for staffing Children's Ministries, but I am now pleased to say that if your child attends on Saturday, they'll have an equally quality experience as they would on Sunday. We've had so many people visit and the commit to attending our church based on the Saturday service. We've been confirmed over and over again that this was a good choice to make.

Neighborhood Prayer Outreach We've spend four Saturday mornings walking through neighborhoods near our church, knocking on doors and asking if we could pray for people. Many were uninterested, but a few families have ended up joining our church family because of it! We've prayed for our neighbors whether they wanted it or not, and been able to reach out to people in their time of need.

Staffing In an effort to be wise with our finances, we had to cut some positions in the spring. While it was sad to part with our friends, we've seen the staff we do have step up and work aggressively to make sure ministry is done well. While we're lean, we've seen our staff become even more passionate about seeing people reached for Jesus.

Early Childhood Our Early Childhood department has seen some changes. We lost our dear Amy to a husband and Paris (I guess that's a good enough reason), and have welcomed Lucy to our team. It's been great to see how God answered Amy's desire to be a wife, and brought Lucy to us with all her experience. But not only has she blessed us, but our pace and way of ministry have been a blessing to her. We also were able to add Mallory to our team and love having one staff person solely focused on our Nursery, Toddler and 2's & 3's classes on Sunday mornings.

Modulars We mentioned an idea and it caught on! In July we brought up the idea of adding a modular unit to our space for a class for our Fourth and Fifth graders, and in December we opened the new space! Not only were we able to get the room for our older elementary students, but also get two additional units for adult class space.

Adventureland In December we also launched the new name of our Children's Ministries... Adventureland!

And let's not forget, Bridge 45 In April at the Conspire Conference we felt called to reach our fourth a fifth graders in a new way, and now we're half way through the first year of Bridge 45. We've been creating our own curriculum, and love seeing the excitement in our kids for discovering God's Word for themselves.

2008 was so great, I can't wait to see what God has yet to do in 2009!

More Changes

This past Sunday we launched Adult Education classes on Sunday mornings. For the first time in 26 years, Morning Star has classes for adults during our services. This wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for the new modulars. With the expectation of more families attending both Sunday services, the thought of opening a cafe arose. People would be hungry, kids would appreciate a snack between services, and a place to socialize as people stayed around for more would be apparent. So we also opened "Grace Cafe" on Sunday morning.

Grace Cafe is in the same lobby where we check in new families and our Infants, Toddlers, and 2's & 3's classes open into it. I was a little nervous about adding so many people to the space. Concerned that we wouldn't be able to control our environment. Apprehensive about feeling run over. But all these hesitations disappeared the moment the lobby filled. People were standing around, sitting at tables, leaning against walls. And they were talking! Not only that, new families were being introduced to the old timers. The lobby was louder than I've heard it on a Sunday morning. But it was good noise. I loved the sound almost as much as I love the sound of little kids worshipping. It was a beautiful song of fellowship.

Not only are our adults having more opportunities to strengthen their marriages, improve their money management, expand their understanding of the scriptures, and study with fellow single moms, but they're also just hanging out at church. I was reading the Facebook profile of one of our teens, and she made the statement, "I love church. I'd spend all my time there if I could." I love seeing the body of Christ be filled with love. And filled with food is pretty nice too.

A Good Night

I'm sitting in my recliner, groaning and complaining about every five minutes that my feet, ankles or hips hurt. It's because I spent over 5 hours on my feet tonight (in shoes that aren't that great I've discovered). But deep down, I'm happy. I had a great evening! Tonight we had our second Family Movie Night. Our first was in October, and we're now hoping to have one the last Friday of every month. We started the movie nights as a replacement for our Family Experience Services we used to do (since the start of Saturday service it's been too much to pull off). And this event has proven to be the most popular of any outside event we've offered to the families of Morning Star.

We obtained a license that gives us the right to show movies as long as we don't charge people to attend. So free admission, combined with a low cost snack bar (each item is $1.00 or less), has created a great, affordable, fun, family night. We've stocked up on M & M's, Skittles, and Capri Suns. And a lady in our church recently donated a brand new popcorn popper like you'll find at carnivals or the movies. With the show on the big projector screens, it's like going to the movies!

Tonight our film was "Kit Kittredge." Though it's an American Girl movie, the boys loved it too! I was putting together a family discussion guide today (thanks to Kidology), and was struck with what a fitting movie it was, especially with why we're doing this event. The movie takes place during the Great Depression and has several themes about not being too prideful, making do when you have little, and still helping others even though you also have need. Such fitting themes for our economy. And with the economy being what it is, we're finding that our families are loving an entertainment option that doesn't hurt their wallets.

So while I'm hurting and tired, I'm so happy. This event was worth every minute I stood. Seeing the excitement in the kids as they entered the building. The joy on parents faces as they paid $6 for a fun evening that would have otherwise cost $50 at the theater. The little girls who danced across the front of the room as music played in the show. The family who just visited our church for the first time on Sunday and joined us. All of these things show why tonight was worth it. And I can't wait until the next one!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What's In A Name?

For years, Morning Star's children's ministries has been called just that--Children's Ministries. While the individual age group departments had titles (Wee Zone, Wonder Zone... etc), but no all encompassing title for the ministry. The elementary kids were aware of their department name, but other than that, our kids just called their Sunday morning experience "church."

We've wanted to find a name for the past three years, but nothing really fit. We pretty much discovered that it's hard to find a title for something a "zone" fits in. But with the addition of Bridge 45, Grow Zone (2nd-5th) became obsolete. We finally had a chance to completely rethink what you call us.

Along the way I found that while the involvement of several people in the brainstorming process was good, in the end, I had to make a final call. We'd probably still be debating otherwise. So just what did we come up with?

"Where kids adventure through the Bible and discover that God’s Word is exciting."
Our infants, toddlers, 2's & 3's are now in Adventure Ranch, the preschoolers and Tender Hearts is Adventure Cove, K-3rd is Adventure Mountain, and Bridge 45 for the fourth and fifth graders. John Nissen, a dad and graphic designer in our church, did an amazing job of creating our logo! He reflected our home, the Northwest, in the design and made it look like it belonged at Disneyland!

We knew that if we wanted the name to be remembered by the people in our church, it'd have to be promoted well. On December 7, our launch date, Morning Star families were greeted by a beautiful free standing sign directing them the different areas, a "Welcome to Adventureland" banner, and banners for each Adventure in their areas. Not only that, we also had a great opportunity to share the news with the church in the Morning Star 411, our video announcements.

411 - Week of December 4th from Morning Star Church on Vimeo.

We've had a lot of fun launching a new name--especially one that unifies our departments!

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